TAMPA, Fla. - Since earning a spot on the big-league roster in 2012, righthander David Phelps, a 14th-round selection in the 2008 draft, has bounced frequently between the Yankees' starting rotation and bullpen.
But with the fifth starter spot open, Phelps, who arrived Sunday at the Yankees' facility and has been working out the past three days, would like to earn a permanent home in the rotation this spring.
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"I would obviously love to be a starter. I think I'm capable," Phelps, 27, said. "I just have to go out and show what I'm capable of. If it's not that, I don't have a problem pitching out of our bullpen, but at the same time, I do want to start. It's where I've been my whole career up until the last couple."
Phelps started the 2013 season in the bullpen before receiving his first start on May 1 against Houston. He remained in the rotation until early July, when a flexor strain in his right forearm put him on the disabled list. Phelps returned to the Yankees in September, making four appearances out of the bullpen.
"I feel great," said Phelps, who was 6-5 with a 4.98 ERA in 22 games (12 starts) last season. "The ball's coming out really well right now. Everything that was going on last year is behind me now. They did a great job down here when I was rehabbing and this offseason just getting it all taken care of."
Phelps' likely competition for the fifth spot is Michael Pineda, with Adam Warren, D.J. Mitchell and Vidal Nuno also in the mix.
"2012, we traded for Pineda, we signed [Hiroki] Kuroda, coming into spring training we have six starters and it's me, Adam and D.J. are all fighting for a spot,'' Phelps said. "Last year, it was me and [Ivan] Nova. And then this year. It's good for our team. It's always good to have somebody pushing you . . . We're not going to root against each other, because if we all do well, our team does better."
Jeter progressing. Derek Jeter continues to show no ill effects from the left ankle fracture that helped limit him to 17 games last year. Midway through his third week of preparation for the season at the Yankees' facility, Jeter took four rounds of batting practice (33 swings) and looked comfortable at the plate, driving the ball with regularity to right- and left-centerfield.
After a light tossing session, the Yankees captain smoothly fielded 19 ground balls from the infield grass at shortstop and 26 more at normal depth with nary a bobble.
"Derek looks amazing, just from what I've seen. That's awesome," Phelps said. "You look in the past, this team is usually only as strong as he is. He's definitely our backbone, and it's going to be nice having him back there behind us every game, that's for sure."